Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 1946

THE PRESIDENT

Took exception to the action of the Appropriation Committee in the Senate cutting appropriation for the OPA.

SENATOR McKELLAR

Explained his position. He thought that the House amount was satisfactory and that he remained in agreement with that amount. He felt, however, that the OPA request was too high and believed the matter should go to conference.

THE PRESIDENT

Said there was no sense in continuing price control unless funds are made available to administer it.

SENATOR McKELLAR

Stated that he found that in Nebraska, for example, OPA agents would go to a man in the sugar business and find a shortage. The OPA would thereupon inform this businessman that he was in violation and would be subject to injunction. Either that or a fine would be imposed and the OPA agent would go to court and get a consent decree. McKellar said that this practice was not confined to Nebraska and that our courts should not be run on that basis. He considers this a highly improper procedure. It is making criminals out of honest men.

CHESTER BOWLES

Stated that this resulted from amendment put through the Senate by Senator John Donaher in 1944 to get away from prosecution of OPA violators.

PAUL PORTER

This practice is now being reviewed by the OPA with a view to correction.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Black market in meat must be reduced. Majority volume of meat is not going to big companies. Small companies do not pay any attention to stabilization. Bigger packers do. Therefore, smaller companies are dealing in black market. Small companies pay no attention to federal inspection of meat. Secretary Anderson feels that this is extremely dangerous to the national health and welfare.

WILSON WYATT

Said that in his opinion the Civilian Production Administration is also in critical shape. Personnel is demoralized as they do not know when their activities are to be curbed. He believes this is contributing considerably to delay in accomplishing the housing program.

SENATOR McKELLAR

There a strong feeling in the Senate that the OPA is trying to perpetuate itself.

THE PRESIDENT

This is entirely erroneous.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Strike in packing industry brought black market operators into picture again. Last summer OPA had the black market under control. However, the situation now is that the big packers have idle employees with no meat to process. He stated that the OPA does not have nearly enough personnel to enforce the act.

CHESTER BOWLES

When rationing went out a strong enforcement arm was lost as we do not now have this additional check on the flow of meat.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Number of businessmen have been very vocal in trying to get rid of price control but he is convinced that the rank and file of American people want price control continued.

THE PRESIDENT

We are faced with alternative of doing the job or giving it up completely.

WILSON WYATT

Stated that administration is in trouble in the House on housing program. Progress being made there is very unsatisfactory.

SENATOR ANDERSON

There is a feeling that the housing authority is taking all controls from OPA and centering it under Wyatt.

WILSON WYATT

Stated that the opposite was true.

CHESTER BOWLES

Stated that there was no one more in favor of Wyatt's program than Bowles. He believes that that should answer the objection raised by Sec. Anderson.

WILSON WYATT

Unless some clarification on premium amendment in the House is made it will be defeated. Requested that the President urge passage.

SENATOR McKELLAR

Deplores overlapping in federal agencies. He believes there should be one over-all housing agency. Says each agency is asking for money on the basis of essential housing construction.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

Drew comparison between WPB during the war and Wyatt's position now. WPB was coordinating agency. 50% of its work was done by the War and Navy Departments. If it was handled in any other way the job would be unwieldy and would bring about unnecessary duplication in work.